the region

Forty IP women establish a group in Surigao del Sur against armed conflict

January 16, 2020

From conflict-affected to a resilient IP Community in Surigao Sur Lianga, Surigao del Sur – Forty members of the Conflict-affected Indigenous Peoples (IP) Community of Sitio Simuwao formed a women’s organization named, Km9 Simuwao Kabudangan Association (KSKA) on January 12 at Sitio Simuwao (Kilometer 9), in barangay Diatagon of Lianga to prepare the community for the implementation of government livelihood programs of the Surigao del Sur Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC). This is one of the IP community’s first steps to become resilient and empowered to any conflict.  The Community Support Program (CSP) teams composed of the 9th Special Forces Company, 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion, 41ST Civil-Military Operations Company, Lianga Police Community Relations, IP Tribal Council of Lianga and the Barangay Local Government Unit of barangay Diatagon facilitated the IP women’s drafting of their constitution and by-laws. Their next activities will include leadership and livelihood training.  It can be recalled that Kilometer 9 IPs were then exploited by the alleged Communist NPA Terrorist (CNTs) linked anti-government and militant groups through the conduct of “Taktikang Bakwit” in the past years. However, through the Local Government Unit (LGU)-led effort to win the peace through the Task Force ELCAC and CSP, an environment of genuine peace and reconciliation between the government (to include the military) and the IP Community was fostered.  During the first peace dialogue between the military and IPs last August 22, 2019, some of the IPs were still skeptical, but with tangible results of sustainable development and people empowerment by the government such as the rehabilitation of farm to market roads, installation of electricity lines, and the delivery of various basic government services, the IPs found a real ally against the CNTs who exploited them.  One mother from KM9 said, “We now realized that the only way to attain the tribe’s preservation and development is to make ourselves resilient. We don’t need to rely always to the government. Instead, we have to strive ourselves to have a better life.” Bayan Muna and Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa mga Sumusunod (MAPASU) attempted to stop the government’s implementation of Executive Order No. 70 and demanded to pull-out the military from the community but Surigao Sur province and the IP community remained steadfast to their commitment to end insurgency and turned down their demand immediately. Meanwhile, the IP Council mulls the establishment of a detachment which will serve as an inter-agency facility to address criminality, insurgency and environment exploitation in Kilometer 9 to further boost their quest to have a resilient and peaceful community.  

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NPA surrenderees in Surigao Sur reveal arm cache hidden in Mt Gacob

January 14, 2020

SAN AGUSTIN, Surigao del Sur – The joint elements of the 9th Special Forces “Hounds” Company under the 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion (3SFBn) and the Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB) of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) seized an NPA arms cache on January 10 at Mt. Gacob, Sitio Magkahunaw, Barangay Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. Recovered were two caliber 30 Garand rifles, and assorted ammunitions and explosives. This is a result from the follow-up interviews of the two rebel surrenderees (@John and @Dave) who revealed the location of the arms cache. “The declaration of persona non-grata to the members of the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) by Surigao del Sur province and the institutionalization of the Local Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (LTF-ELCAC) of the Province down to its municipalities play a role on the influx of rebel surrenderees in Surigao Sur, “Lieutenant Colonel Joey B Baybayan INF (GSC) PA, 3SFBn Commanding Officer, said. During the  Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) Meeting last January 6 presided by Governor Alexander T. Pimentel, the council observed the significant decrease of NPA violent and non-violent activities in Surigao Sur. Further, participation among people in demonstrations organized by anti-government militant groups allegedly linked to CNTs significantly decreased. Colonel Allan D Hambala INF (MNSA) PA, 401st (Unite and Fight) Infantry Brigade Commander lauds the Provincial Government of Surigao Del Sur for its steadfast support to end insurgency through the plans and programs under Executive Order No. 70 of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. In the whole region of CARAGA, the province of Surigao del Sur was the first to declare CNTs unwelcome. Meanwhile, the Army and the Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict continuously call on the remaining CNTs to abandon armed struggle and avail of the Enhanced Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for rebel surrenderees.  

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2 young NPA rebels surrender with high-powered firearms

January 10, 2020

Marihatag , Surigao del Sur – A new life for the new year as two young NPAs on the army’s watch list surrendered yesterday, January 9, at the 7th Special Forces “Spartans” Company under 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion at barangay Mararag in Marihatag bringing along one 5.56 M16A1 rifle, one M653 rifles,  2 long magazines with 86 rounds of ammunitions. Both surrenderees are members of the Communist NPA Terrorists, (CNTs’) Weakened Guerilla Front 19 (WGF19), Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC). @John who was 17 years old then, and @Dave, who requested anonymity for security reasons, were buddies and both are residents of barangay Mahaba in Marihatag.  A certain @Julian recruited them in the vicinity of Baliad in Diatagon, Lianga, SDS. As curious young individuals, they explored and joined the terrorist group but, in the end, regretted their decision because miserable experiences. Starvation, exhaustion and the irrelevance of their existence as a terrorist group were factors for their surrender. They had a chance to break out of the group when they were tasked to plead for food in the far-flung communities outside their guerrilla base. Both became squad leaders and stayed in the group from April-October 2019 and this year, they formally surrendered. “Gutom, pagod at takot sa aming buhay lang ang inabot namin. Mali talaga ang desisyon namin sumali. Kaya nang inutusan kami kumuha ng pagkain, tumakas nakami at ayaw na naming bumalik,” @John said. It can be recalled that last December 2019, the Marihatag Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) hosted a peace dialogue in barangay Mahaba spearheaded by TESDA Surigao del Sur as the lead agency for Poverty Reduction, Employment and Livelihood Cluster wherein the Enhanced Local Comprehensive Integration Program (E-CLIP) for NPA surrenderees was discussed and disseminated in the community through leaflets distribution and the Community Support Program teams that were immersed in the barangay last year. Colonel Allan D Hambala INF (MNSA) PA, 401st”Unite and Fight” Infantry Brigade Commander urge members of the Task Forces to be more active in delivering the basic services in the conflict-affected areas because the government’s visibility will surely have a developmental impact to disprove the CNT’s promises and will weaken the CNTs’ will to fight which can induce more surrenders in the future. 

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Anti-NPA campaign rally held in Caraga Region

January 6, 2020

BAYUGAN, Agusan del Sur - An anti-NPA campaign rally was held recently in Bayugan City and Lianga, Surigao del Sur, participated the local govenrment and indigenous peoples (IPs), youth groups and members of the Philippina National Police. Hawudon S. Bucales said the New People Army (NPA) are the ones who allegedly destroyed the IP culture by respecting the IP's governance in the hinterlands. Bucales was a representative of the Lianga Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative, a very active group of the indigenous communities in the province.   “Gusto nilang ipalit na mga lider sa IP ay yung mga kaya nilang kontrolin at gamitin ag tribo para iabante ang political at armadong pakikibaka ng CPP/NPA,” Bucales said. He also called on the militant groups to stop using the tribe as props to gain sympathy from foreign funding institutions. “Pauwiin niyo na ang mga katribo naming nasa Maynila, nanjan sa UP Diliman, ginagawa niyo silang kasangkapan para kumuha lang ng simpatya at siraan ang gobyerno at military na tumutugis sa mga teroristang NPA,” Bucales added. This year, Agusan, Surigao del Sur municipalities and various provinces in Mindanao have declared the Communist NPA Terrorists as persona non-grata making them more irrelevant and their cause useless. Lieutenant Colonel Joey B Baybayan INF GSC PA, 3SFBn calls on the remaining terrorists to surrender and lay down their arms as the whole nation stands against them. “With the Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, many people became enlightened with their deceitful tactics making them more cautious and concerned because anyone could be a target and a victim of NPA recruitment, extortion and many other atrocities committed by the CNTs,” LTC Baybayan, said. “Filipinos are peace-loving and if you really fight for the people, hear their cry against you. The people want you out. They want you to stop your crimes and atrocities. The people don’t need you (NPAs) because you are a hindrance to attaining lasting peace in the country,” he added.  Meanwhile, Hands off of Our Children, League of the Parents of Philippines, Citizen Crime Watch at Manila NGO Alliance, Bantay Bayan and other concerned citizens rose up against the CNTs, Communist Party of the Philippines and National Democratic Front, who have caused divisiveness, terror and unrest especially in the conflict-affected areas around the country through mass rallies in Metro Manila.

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Australian surgical mission treats 205 patients in Camiguin

January 4, 2020

CAMIGUIN — Treating 205 patients in a two-day surgical mission, the Share Me a Dream Australia Inc. (SMADI) partnered with Maharlika Charity Foundation, Inc. and Camiguin Medical Foundation to conduct such in Mahinog, here. Doctors of the said groups attended to 119 dental extractions, 59 minor surgeries which were mainly cysts, 15 cataract surgeries, 9 cleft lip and palate surgeries, 2 circumcisions  and 1 foreign body surgery. The members of the medical team and volunteers led by Dr. Benedict Valdez and Bernie Mendoza traveled nine hours from Davao to Camiguin to hold the mission. SMADI also extended support to earthquake victims in Kidapawan distributing medicines, 5 sacks of rice and 50 Malongs (blanket) to B’laan and Bagobo tribes. SMADI is a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission.   

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Construction of new houses to quake survivors in Davao del Sur underway

December 31, 2019

MAGSAYSAY, Davao del Sur - The construction of new homes for quake survivors in Davao del Sur is now underway, as the project is now being started by the National Housing Authority (NHA) Those victims of the recent quakes who were rendered homeless would benefit the housing project of the government. Thousands of families in Davao del Sur were rendered homeless as a result of three powerful tremors that hit the province.  The local government has acquired 2.5 hectare of land in barangay Malawanit, says Mayor Arthur Davin in an interview with reporters. The land, the mayor said, was purchased by party list Dumper PIDA (Philippines Taxi Drivers Association) through the initiative of Rep. Claudine Diana Bautista. In a report by Inquirer.net, NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada has already conducted occular inspection of the relocation site in Purok 5, barangay Malawanit last week. The strong quakes displaced a total of 117 families in barangay Malawanit alone. But there were a few who get help from non-govenrmental organizations and were able to build their new houses. 

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